published Saturday, September 29th, 2012

Recession helps partners sell refurbished office furniture in Chattanooga

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    Staff Photo by John Rawlston The Eastgate Town Center is a multiuse facility in the space that was once the largest retail mall in the area.

Every recession is filled with opportunities for those willing to work hard.

John Jerman and Jason Flowers on Friday opened the doors at their furniture business at Eastgate Town Center, where the pair will sell refurbished chairs, desks and cubicles for between 50 percent and 70 percent off the list price.

Office Furniture Warehouse, which Jerman originally founded in 2008 with $30,000 in Cleveland, Tenn., was briefly based in the downtown Business Development Center before moving into the new 20,000-square-foot space on Lee Highway.

They expect to see a lot of small business traffic, but also a lot of work-from-home entrepreneurs, Jarman said.

"We're finding a lot of people are being forced into entrepreneurism because they can't get a job," Jarman said. "They don't want to spend what they've got left on furniture."

He gets much of his inventory from businesses that are downsizing and want the old desks and chairs hauled away, and from real estate brokers, he said.

"If they downsize from 20,000 square feet to 10,000 square feet, they have 10,000 square feet of extra furniture," Jerman said. "They can either pay someone to take it away or we get rid of it for them."

A typical office chair from Steel Case can cost $900, but Jerman and Flowers will sell a used one with new upolstry for $200, Flowers said.

"The economy has been tough on people," said Flowers. "A lot of people are looking to save money on furniture."

In addition to selling repaired name-brand furniture, the company will repair expensive chairs to like-new condition for a fraction of the price of a new chair as part of a program called My Chair Doctor.

"If you go and buy a chair for $800 and it breaks, we can repair it for $100," Flowers said.

The partners will employ 10 workers at their 5600 Brainerd Road store.

about Ellis Smith...

Ellis Smith joined the Chattanooga Times Free Press in January 2010 as a business reporter. His beat includes the flooring industry, Chattem, Unum, Krystal, the automobile market, real estate and technology. Ellis is from Marietta, Ga., and has a bachelor’s degree in mass communication at the University of West Georgia. He previously worked at UTV-13 News, Carrollton, Ga., as a producer; at the The West Georgian, Carrollton, Ga., as editor; and at the Times-Georgian, Carrollton, ...

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